Embedding Images in Emails:  Boosts CTR or Kills Deliverability?

Tired of sending emails that fail to engage your audience?

Feel like your emails are getting lost in the shuffle?

Here’s the good news: Embedding images is an easy way to make your emails stand out and capture your email recipients' attention.

Now, before you start sending random images, memes, and gifs, let me remind you: It's not a no-brainer.

There are pitfalls to avoid and best practices to follow that will help guarantee that your embedded images don’t end up in the spam folder or arrive looking ugly on different devices.

By the end of this article, you'll be a pro at embedding images and sending visually-pleasing emails that your recipients won't be able to resist.

Why Embed Images in Emails?

Embedding photos in your emails may be beneficial in a number of ways, if you want them to stand out. First, it can improve the click-through rate of your email. Studies from 2023 show that emails containing photos have a click-through rate that is 147 percent higher than those without!

Reasons to Embed Images in Emails

Source: GetResponse

Visuals elevate engagement. They pique the interest of your reader and keep them reading. Including images can improve the emails' overall aesthetic appeal. They help break up long passages of text and enhance the clarity and impact of your message.

Plus, everyone else is doing it—including your competition.

So, if you want to make a lasting impression with your emails, consider adding some eye-catching visuals. In fact, they are a must-have email element for any email marketing campaign. You know how brands like Samsung and Apple use images to market their products? They do it because it works.

Are you aware of the impact of email deliverability on your sales goals? Learn how to set up a strong foundation with effective technical email setup.

Examples of Successful Brands Using Images in Emails

Samsung is a great example of a company that uses images effectively in their emails. In marketing emails, the company often includes high-quality images of their latest products or promotions.

Examples of Big Brands Using Images in Emails - Samsung

Examples of Big Brands Using Images in Emails - Samsung Galaxy S23
Samsung utilizes images to showcase their products

These images not only grab the reader's attention, but also help to showcase the features and benefits of their products in a visually-pleasing way.

Apple is another great example. Apple usually includes high-quality images of their newest devices or deals in marketing emails, displaying the items' elegant designs and cutting-edge features. Emails from Apple are also known for being customized to special occasions, like Valentine's Day.

Examples of Big Brands Using Images in Emails - Apple

Examples of Big Brands Using Images in Emails - Apple uses a lot of images on their email marketing campaigns
Apple uses a lot of images on their email marketing campaigns

If you use email marketing to connect with your customers, you already know how effective visual content can be at boosting engagement and conversion rates. Using visuals in your emails helps them stand out, while also communicating the style and branding of your company.

Despite the many advantages of including images in emails, there are a few pitfalls.

Pitfalls to Avoid When Embedding Images in Emails

Let’s look at some of the typical issues with embedding photos in emails, along with advice to avoid these problems, so that subscribers will receive, open, and interact with your emails.

Here are some points to consider:

1. Ensure Images are Optimized for Different Devices and Email Clients

One of the most common challenges with images in emails is checking that they are optimized for different devices and email applications. Make sure that the images you use are displayed properly across different email inboxes, mobile devices, and desktops.

2. Ensure Images are Relevant and Add Value to the Message

Make sure that any graphics you include in emails are pertinent to the overall message you're attempting to convey. And, they must add value. Choose high-quality photos that reflect your brand and message.

3. Avoid Low-Quality or Irrelevant Images

Besides ensuring that your photos are relevant and offer value to your message, it’s also important to avoid using low-quality or irrelevant images. Using irrelevant or low-quality photos will reduce the impact and effectiveness of your communication.

4. Consider the Impact of Image-Heavy Emails on Load Times and Email Deliverability

Finally, evaluate the possible impact of image-heavy emails on email load speeds and deliverability. Image-heavy emails will take longer to load, impacting the user experience and decreasing the chance of customer engagement.

Also, certain email clients may block emails with huge files or graphics, so your messages might not reach subscribers. To prevent these problems, optimize your photos for the web and try combining text and graphics in your emails.

Keep these issues in mind and take steps to address them. Then, you can use images effectively in your emails and avoid common pitfalls that might undermine your efforts.

Why Embedded Images Can Reduce Email Deliverability

When sending an email that contains images, it may be tempting to embed them straight into the message. But, this might reduce your email deliverability.

Why Embedded Images Can Reduce Email Deliverability
Some email clients like iCloud rejects sending large email contents

When you embed an image in an email, the image is hosted on your server, which might slow down the email's loading time. Also, when images are included directly in emails, the email size increases, which might trigger spam filters.

Some email clients may automatically block embedded images, which means your message won't display correctly for the recipient. To avoid these issues, consider using externally hosted images and including alt text in case the image doesn't load. This way, your email is more likely to be delivered and displayed correctly.

Adding alt text to images within your email is also critical for email accessibility, as people with certain disabilities - who rely on screen reader tools - will need alt text to understand the meaning of the images they've been sent.

Impact of the Spam Folder on Email Marketing

Have you ever received an email in your spam folder and wondered how it got there? Getting flagged as spam is a typical risk associated with email marketing—and it can impact your campaign.

When you are identified as spam, your email service provider may penalize you by limiting your account, and your email deliverability may be compromised, making it more difficult to reach your audience. Furthermore, when recipients flag your emails as spam, it can damage your reputation and reduce the effectiveness of future email efforts.

Reasons to Embed Images in Emails - Impacts of Being Marked as Spam on Email Marketing
Gmail automatically flag emails as spam when multiple users reported it as spam

To avoid being flagged as spam, only send emails to people who have opted in to receive them, use clear and short subject lines, avoid excessive capitalization and spam trigger phrases, and provide recipients with a simple opt-out option. It’s also important to observe general best practices for writing sales emails.

Best Practices for Embedding Images in Emails

When it comes to designing great emails, images are a useful tool for engaging your audience and expressing your message. It’s one of many important marketing and sales email tips. Unfortunately, attaching images in emails might also prove challenging at times.

It's important to follow best practices for embedding images in emails to guarantee that they appear appropriately and reach your intended audience. After all, you want to avoid damaged images, email deliverability concerns, and content that appears distorted on different devices.

Now we’ll look at some best practices for embedding images in emails, and how they can help you create aesthetically-pleasing emails that successfully convey your message.

1. Optimize Images for Email

Optimizing images for email means reducing the file size of the images without compromising their quality, so that they load quickly and display properly on different devices and email clients.

The smaller the file size, the faster the images will load, which is critical for providing a good user experience. Also, bigger file sizes might activate spam filters, making it more difficult for your emails to reach their intended recipients.

2. Consider Image Formats and Size

Different types of images have different strengths and weaknesses, so it's important to choose the right format for each image. JPEG format is great for photographs, whereas PNG format is best for graphics with transparent backgrounds.

It's also vital to keep image size under 1MB, since bigger images might cause email deliverability issues and take too long to load.

3. Use Alt Tags

Alt tags are descriptions of images that appear when the image cannot load, providing context to the recipient about the image's content. Utilizing alt tags can increase email accessibility and deliverability, and help recipients understand the email's message even if they can't see it.

Best Practices for Embedding Images in Emails - Use Alt Tags.
Disney utilizes a detailed alt tag in case the image doesn't load

4. Use CSS for Styling

Using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for styling instead of relying on embedded images can create visually appealing emails that are more engaging and effective. CSS allows you to customize how the image appears: adjust size, shadow, margins, borders, and position.

Additionally, CSS can help customize fonts, colors, and other design elements without relying on images, which reduces the risk of deliverability issues and improves load times.

5. Personalize Images

Personalized images can help boost engagement and foster a connection between the recipient and the brand or sender. You can create custom images that are relevant and interesting to the recipient by leveraging recipient data, like name or location.

Personalized images may improve open and click-through rates, increasing the effectiveness of your email campaign.

In addition to these practices, utilizing advanced tools can further enhance your email marketing strategy. For instance, Close offers an AI Email Writer tool, designed to streamline the email creation process. Check it out!

Test and Maximize Deliverability

With email marketing, testing and improving deliverability is important if you want your emails to reach your target audience. One way to test the deliverability of emails with embedded images is by using email outreach tools that allow you to test how your emails will display across different email clients and devices.

Another useful testing approach is email A/B testing, where you experiment with different image positions and formats to identify the best combination that will optimize interaction while avoiding spam filters.

In addition to testing, there are general best practices for increasing deliverability and avoiding spam filters. These include segmenting your email list, using a reputable email service provider, optimizing your images for email, and including clear calls-to-action.

Further, avoid spam triggers like excessive capitalization, overuse of exclamation points, and including certain words and phrases that are commonly associated with spam.

Embedding Images in Emails - How to Test and Maximize Deliverability
Netflix uses a clear call-to-action

Maximize the success of your email marketing campaign and reach your target audience with engaging and relevant content—that produces results—by following these best practices and testing your emails for deliverability and engagement.

Give Your Emails a Boost with Smart Image Embedding

Adding images to your emails is a great way to engage readers, while also making your communication more aesthetically appealing. There are, however, several mistakes to avoid in order to guarantee that your images reach your intended audience—as intended.

By following best practices and avoiding common pitfalls, you can write emails that look amazing and captivate your audience's attention.

Whether you're looking to drive more conversions, build brand awareness, or simply connect with your subscribers, embedding images in your emails can help you achieve your goals and drive better results.

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